The Bench Press Pause for a Bigger, Stronger Chest
Whether you’re working out at home with light weights or trying to avoid injury using lighter loads, it can be frustrating when you’re forced to give up one of those top exercises like the heavy bench press.
But lightweights don’t have to mean limited gains. By using the “pause” technique, you can override the “stretch shortening cycle,” or elastic energy that your body builds up when you stretch a muscle. With this natural elastic assistance removed, even the lightest weights can start to feel too heavy, leading to new muscle gain, while helping you perfect your technique and avoid injury. (Lift Less to Gain Muscle, Science Says So!)
Putting the pause technique into practice is as easy as it sounds, you simply pause at the bottom of each repetition. There is no better movement to put this into practice than the bench press. Pausing for 4-5 seconds with the bar resting on your chest during each rep will greatly increase the intensity of the movement and seriously reduce the amount of weight you’ll need to get through your sets. In this scenario, fewer discs equals bigger pecs.
For the ultimate chest pump, start with an empty bar and try to build with the heaviest weight you can muster for about 20-rep rests. Rest 3-4 minutes between each set. You will need it.
Bench press with pause x 20 repetitions
Lie on a bench, with your knees bent, pushing your feet hard into the ground. With a wide grip, pull the bar out, locking your elbows. Lower the bar slowly until the bar touches your lower chest. Keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle, stop here and mentally count to five before explosively pressing the bar back up. Don’t pause at the top, immediately lower the bar under control to your chest and pause again. Start with an empty bar and aim for 20 reps. Add a small amount of weight each set until you can no longer reach 20. (The rest-pause method to gain more muscle and strength.)